Burlington County Announces Interest-Free Small Business Loans
MOUNT HOLLY – Businesses in Burlington County have a new lifeline to help them stay afloat as the country braces for a potential second wave of COVID-19 closures.
County officials voted last week to move forward with its new health emergency loan program (HELP), an interest-free loan program that provides up to $ 50,000 to local small businesses affected by COVID -19.
The program, which local business leaders say comes at a critical time, is funded by $ 660,000 federal CARES funding secured by Burlington from the Burlington County Bridge Commission economic development office.
“From the very beginning of the pandemic, the council’s mission has been to provide all the help we can muster for our residents and small businesses to help them navigate this unprecedented crisis,” said Deputy Director Tom. Pullion, the county council liaison with the Bridge Commission and Department of Economic Development.
Eligible businesses will be able to use the money to keep jobs and to purchase protective equipment and other supplies needed to make renovations or other upgrades to keep customers and employees safe.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our country’s economy and they are still struggling due to the pandemic and the changes and sacrifices that the health emergency has imposed on us all,” said the president of the Bridge Commission and State Senator Troy Singleton. “By providing zero-interest loans to our businesses, we can help them stay afloat and keep their employees working until the virus is defeated and the economy rebounds. ”
The loans will be managed by the bridging commission, which acts as the county’s economic development authority.
Business leaders across the county say the new program could not have been better timed, as the initial loans from programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and others have been spent and revenues are falling. still not back to normal before the coronavirus.
“We still have no idea when this would happen, so financial support is essential to help keep employees employed and the doors open,” said Kristi Howell, President and CEO of the Regional Chamber of Commerce. Burlington County (BCRCC). “This will have a huge impact on the Burlington County business community. ”
Howell said that after similar programs were announced in neighboring counties, several BCRCC members contacted to see if Burlington County offered something similar.
“So many of our members have expressed a desire to keep their employees employed,” Howell said. “One of the biggest problems is employment; Whether it is because business is slowing down or funds have to be used for rent or for other reasons, the HELP loan, which focuses on job retention, helps solve this problem.
Moorestown Businesses Association president Steven Pazienza said local businesses should benefit from the program, especially if there is not an urgent need to receive the money.
“It’s a wonderful program, the conditions are as good as anything you get,” Pazienza said. “I strongly encourage any small business to try and store the cheapest amount of money possible so that you have the capacity to weather any storm that comes your way.”
One thing Pazienza also encouraged was patience.
“It’s a very slow process,” Pazienza said, adding that he hoped government officials would be able to streamline the process in any way possible to make it easier for businesses to receive the money.
“Money is very useful, very precious for a small business,” said Pazienza. “But let’s make sure it’s not that hard to go through the process that people aren’t going through it.”
To be eligible for the loans, the borrowing business must be located in Burlington County, the jobs must be retained for the term of the loan, and the borrower must have sufficient personal business or real estate collateral to secure the loan.
Businesses can get up to $ 10,000 for each job retained, up to a maximum of $ 50,000. The loans will have an interest rate of 0%, no closing costs, a maximum repayment period of 10 years, application fees are waived and the equity of the venture company must be at least 10% of the amount requested to borrow.
Loans cannot be used to refinance outstanding debt.
United States Representative Andy Kim, who sits on the US House Small Business Committee and the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, said the HELP program was the type of small business aid that the CARES Act is meant to say. facilitate.
The CARES Act authorized the United States Department of Commerce and its Economic Development Authority to distribute some $ 1.5 billion to economic development assistance programs across the country to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our small businesses have been hit hard by this crisis, and as we prepare for a potential second wave, we must do all we can to help them keep their doors open,” Kim said in a statement.
In addition to HELP loans, earlier in the pandemic, the county board and the bridging commission announced that all businesses participating in the county’s small business assistance programs have the option to defer their loan payments until. ‘in November.
HELP loans are now available. For more information on how to apply and for other resources visit http://www.bcbridges.org/covid19-resources/ or call the Bridge Commission Office of Economic Development and Regional Planning at 609-265-5055.
“We are committed to getting these dollars out as quickly as possible so they can help our businesses recover. The next few months are likely to be crucial, so we want to make sure that companies are aware that this funding is available, ”Pullion said.
George Woolston is a native of South Jersey who covers a variety of rhythms for the Burlington County Times. He joined the team in 2019. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @gcwoolston. Help support local journalism with a subscription to the Burlington County Times.